Category Archives: University of Georgia

Former UGA Skidaway Institute director Jim Sanders retires

Former UGA Skidaway Institute executive director Jim Sanders retired last summer. Sanders led the institution from 2001 until 2016, when he stepped back from his executive directorship, but remained active in a faculty post. During his 15 years as director or executive director, Sanders guided Skidaway Institute through two recessions and the 2013 merger with the University of Georgia.

Sanders earned his bachelor’s degree in zoology from Duke University and followed it up with a master’s degree and doctorate in marine sciences from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. His first exposure to Skidaway Institute came as a graduate student with Herb Windom in the 1970s.

Prior to his arrival in Savannah in 2001, Sanders was on the faculty and served as director of the Academy of Natural Sciences’ Estuarine Research Center in Maryland. He then was chairman of the Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Old Dominion University in Virginia.

Sanders is known for his interests within the area of nutrient and trace element biogeochemistry, especially how trace elements are transported through coastal zones, transformed by chemical and biological reactions during transport, and how they influence growth and species composition of autotrophic organisms.

Sanders has been very active as a consultant to federal and state science agencies, and industrial groups in the U.S. and Europe. He is a member of numerous scientific societies, was president of the National Association of Marine Laboratories, and was a trustee and officer of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. He is the author of over 75 scientific publications.

Shortly after taking the helm at Skidaway Institute, the nation was hit with an economic downturn sparked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and maintaining adequate funding for research and operations was a challenge.

“The most effective way to deal with it was to hire innovative and interdisciplinary faculty members who would come up with important research questions and then find funding to pursue those avenues,” Sanders said.

Looking back, Sanders said he has always been amazed at the extent to which Skidaway Institute fosters an interactive, collegial work experience.

“I have been at a number of other institutions, large and small, many with a similar focus on oceanography, but I have never felt the interconnections that Skidaway has offered, both to me and other staff, over the past 42 years,” Sanders said.

As Sanders looks back over his time at Skidaway, he is most proud for what he, the faculty and staff have done together.

“In the end, I measure my success through my colleagues and our interactions,” he said. “Really, my career has not been defined by the grants written, or the publications, or even the research that I have performed, but that I was in a position to help others achieve their goals, and perhaps even reach a bit higher in some cases.”

Sanders remains at the institute as a professor emeritus.

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Ohnemus joins UGA Skidaway Institute faculty

Chemical oceanographer Daniel Ohnemus has joined the faculty of UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and the UGA Department of Marine Sciences as an assistant professor.

Ohnemus received his bachelor’s degree from Williams College and his Ph.D. in chemical oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. He joined UGA Skidaway Institute following a postdoctoral appointment at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, Maine.

Ohnemus’ research focuses on marine particles—the mixture of living organisms and non-living chemicals that transport and transform material within the oceans.

“All living organisms need small ‘trace’ amounts of elements like iron and copper to live,” Ohnemus said. “Unlike on land where plants can get these elements from soil, algae in the oceans have to get them from much rarer things like dust, other cells or seawater itself. The limited availability of these elements is an important control on many marine ecosystems.”

The son of a lobsterman and an elementary school educator, Ohnemus grew up on Cape Cod and became fascinated with the ocean at a young age. In fourth grade, his class visited Woods Hole to take part in a satellite video call with marine scientists off the Galapagos Islands. Seeing underwater robots explore a coral reef got Ohnemus hooked on marine science.

At Williams College, he pursued a double major in biology and chemistry. After graduation, he returned to Woods Hole, first as a research technician and later as a graduate student. After earning his Ph.D., he completed a postdoctoral appointment at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, continuing to concentrate on marine particles and trace elements.

UGA Skidaway Institute grad student receives master’s degree

Former UGA Skidaway Institute and Savannah State University graduate student Ashleigh Price successfully defended her master’s thesis before her committee and a public audience on November 8.

She officially received her degree on Dec. 10.

Ashley Price sorts the product of a trawl with John "Crawfish" Crawford on board the UGA Research Vessel Sea Dawg.

Ashley Price sorts the product of a trawl with John “Crawfish” Crawford on board the UGA Research Vessel Sea Dawg.

Ashleigh did most of her research as part of Marc Frischer’s lab at Skidaway Institute. The title of her thesis is “Environmental Reservoirs and Mortality Associated with Shrimp Black Gill.”

The Roebling barn in perspective

by Debbie Jahnke

Editor’s notes: Debbie and Rick Jahnke were longtime members of the Skidaway Institute family. Rick was a faculty scientist and, for several months, interim director of the institute. Debbie was his research coordinator. They both retired in 2008 and moved to Port Townsend, Washington.

 In March of this year, the Georgia General Assembly approved a $3 million bond issue to renovate and repurpose the old Roebling cattle show barn at UGA Skidaway Institute into usable laboratory and meeting space.

In 1986, Rick Jahnke interviewed for a faculty position at Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. At the time, he was a research scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Rick returned home to San Diego with the impression that he wouldn’t be hired because Stuart Wakeham had also interviewed for the position and would undoubtedly be selected. Instead, Skidaway Institute came up with the funds for two positions and hired both Rick and Stuart.

Rick’s start-up requests to Skidaway Institute were modest: a germanium detector and a desktop computer. He also requested lab and office space in the Roebling building and a staging lab in the barn for maintenance, repair and modification of his various seagoing autonomous vehicles. The barn was nearly perfect for that purpose, with plenty of storage space and a central open area that allowed loading and offloading of equipment with a hand-winched pulley system.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rick didn’t need any extra space for me and, instead, split his office with a wall so there was a spot just big enough for my desk and a “labradog” named Daisy. I was the analytical tech for his research and he hired an equipment tech for the seagoing operations. The barn lab operations expanded to the second floor of the barn when it became clear that anyone interested in measuring natural levels of C-14 wasn’t going to be able to do it in many existing Skidaway Institute labs. In the free-form early days of productivity measurements, enough C-14 made it into the ambient spaces of many Skidaway Institute labs that C-14 dating indicated that our labs existed about 50,000 years in the future. The levels of so-called contamination were in no way concerning for health or safety, but they made natural abundance measurements impossible without a “clean” space for sample storage. The bright yellow room with the pink and green interior and cold room on the second floor of the barn were the result.

The interior today

The interior today

From those barn labs, autonomous vehicles were staged, packed and deployed for oceanographic research off western Africa, Peru, Panama, New Guinea, deep shelves off Cape Hatteras, California, Oregon and other locations, as well as the Georgia shelf. Samples were returned and stored in the yellow lab upstairs.

The barn provided another opportunity for me when I was drafted in a weak moment to try to improve what was quite dismal visitor housing at Skidaway Institute in the 1980s. The first housing we made habitable was the barn apartment. As we worked through the process of getting three NSF grants for housing, we also were able to set up a small laundry room in the barn so that volunteers could keep clean linens in the housing we did have. The first successful grant built the quadraplex (Menzel, Zeigler, Carpenter and Knight apartments). The second grant rehabilitated the housing that existed since the plantation days (the barn apartment, now renamed Baggett, Rice House, Thomas and Martin apartments). The third grant built the Commons. I spent many hours in that barn laundry room while most of my weekends and holidays were spent cleaning housing units before the institute finally figured out how to pay someone to do that as a real job.

Rick and I retired in 2008 and headed west with our five cats. All I know of the modern Skidaway Institute is what I read on the website and Facebook pages and occasional emails from friends still there. Skidaway was wonderful to us and the barn was a big part of the ease with which our research was facilitated. It was with considerable pleasure that we learned of the grand and useful future being planned for the good old barn.

Skidaway Institute research team participates in GIS Day

UGA Skidaway Institute’s Clark Alexander’s lab participated again as a sponsor of the GIS Day event hosted by Savannah Area Geographic Information System on the Savannah State University campus.

Mike Robinson demonstrates GIS to two attendees.

Mike Robinson demonstrates GIS to two attendees.

This year marked the 10th year for the event which introduced 450 eighth-grade students along with area business owners, staff, GIS users and citizens from the local community to demonstrations of real-world applications that are making a difference in our society.

GIS Day is celebrated internationally as part of National Geographic’s International Geography Week. The National Geographic Society has sponsored Geography Awareness Week since 1987 to promote geographic literacy in schools, communities and organizations, with a focus on the education of children.

Registration is now open for the 2017 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant is hosting Georgia’s third annual Youth Ocean Conservation Summit on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island. This summit, one of several taking place across the country, empowers students with the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to successfully implement ocean conservation projects.

The event will include skill-building workshops, brainstorming sessions, citizen science presentations and panels featuring professionals working on coastal issues in Georgia. At the end of the day, students will work together to develop and present ideas for conservation efforts that they could lead in their local communities. The event is being organized by the 2016-2017 Georgia Sea Grant Marine Education Interns Kira Krall, Hannah Kittler, Hannah Edwards and McKenna Lyons.

Online registration opens Dec. 5 and closes Jan. 18. The summit is limited to 50 students on a first-come, first-served basis. A $10 registration fee includes lunch and all materials. To register, complete the online registration form and payment.

For more information, visit the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant website http://marex.uga.edu/yocs/.

 

Georgia Sea Grant seeks applicants for 2018 Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

The Georgia Sea Grant College Program is taking applications for the 2018 Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, which places graduate students for a year in various executive and legislative branch offices throughout Washington, D.C.

pagetop_knaussfellowship_647_255-1The fellowship provides a unique educational experience in the policies and processes of the federal government to students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting these resources. The fellowship period begins Feb. 1, 2018, and ends on Jan. 31, 2019.

Any graduate student, regardless of citizenship, who on Feb. 10, 2017, is enrolled in an academic institution in Georgia is eligible to apply. A full list of application materials and additional information on eligibility can be found online at:

http://seagrant.noaa.gov/Portals/0/Documents/funding_fellowship/knauss_fellowship/prospective/NOAA-OAR-SG-2018-2004993%20Full%20Announcement.pdf

Applications must be submitted to Georgia Sea Grant by 5 p.m. on Feb. 10, 2017, via its online submission system, eSeaGrant, that can be accessed using the following link http://eseagrant.uga.edu/index.php

Potential applicants are also encouraged to contact Mona Behl, associate director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, at 706-542-6621 or mbehl@uga.edu to discuss application content and submission. For more information on applying for the Knauss Fellowship, please visit the Georgia Sea Grant website at http://georgiaseagrant.uga.edu/article/knauss_marine_policy_fellowship/